As impossible as it sounds, freshwater is not infinite. It is actually a finite and vulnerable resource. And the key to take care of it is understanding its essential role to sustain life, development and most important in maintaining the environment healthy. So let's dive into how to reduce our water footprint.
Despite the clear acknowledgment of the uses of water and how humanity has managed it, this has had a tremendous impact on the environment and there still are numerous challenges related to water.
Since there are two types of water consumption (direct and virtual) we are aiming for a lifestyle change. So to reduce your water footprint, you'll need to make some adjustments.
To take a closer look at how water works in our day-to-day life, check this article: Water Footprint: How Much Water it Takes to Make Things.
So now that we know how important is water, and how we are in (urgent) need to learn and implement ways to reduce water. The following is a guide for you to change your lifestyle to contribute to saving water (and therefore the world).
Direct use of water: the water we use, the water that we see.
This all might sound super easy and unimportant. And probably you already do a few of the things that are on the list. But the reality is that if we all adopt these little changes in how we use water, we would be saving millions of gallons of water per year.
As we all know, everything is water and everything takes water to make. So lets talk about how can we reduce our virtual water consumption.
We already tacked a few key actions to reduce our direct water consumption. On the other side, virtual consumption of water is generally waaaaayyy larger than the direct one.
But being completely honest with you, domestic activities constitute less than de 4%of our daily water consumption. Leaving the 92% left falling in the “invisible” spectrum of water consumption.
There are two categories in the invisible spectrum that take most of the remaining 92% of water usage. Those are the industrial production of household items (cotton and paper) and the production of food.
First things first: information. We need to figure out what is the water footprint of the food we are buying. With this, I don’t mean you have to calculate the impact of every fry you eat. But having a broader notion of how much energy(water) took to put that delicious crispy fry on your mouth. This will help you understand if the food you are consuming is more likely to be at the better or worse end of the water usage scale. Having this in mind is going to allow us to make better choices to save water.
Is important for that just to pause a moment before purchasing. If it’s an ultra-processed food, then it is going to have a larger water footprint than a “natural” produce. This doesn’t mean fruits and veggies have no water foodprint, but we’ll see about that later.
So, here are 6 actions you can take to reduce your water footprint regarding food.
These are only a few things you can do to reduce your water footprint on food. But as we know water is in everything so it takes a lifestyle change to fix the problem.
Washing a car uses about 150 gallons of water, so by washing less frequently you can cut back your water use. Or you can send it a car wash where they actually recycle the water.
A gallon of gasoline takes nearly 13 gallons of water to produce. Combine your errands, carpool to work, or take public transportation to reduce both your energy and water use. Or just ride a bike, it’s good for the environment and your legs.
It takes about 100 gallons of water to grow and process a single pound of cotton. The average American goes through about 35 pounds of new cotton material each year. One pair of jeans requires plenty of water for its production, which means that you should limit the purchasing and find ones that are recycled before you make a purchase.
One of the best ways to save water is to buy recycled goods and to recycle your stuff when you’re done with it. Or, stick to buying only what you really need. You can find your local goodwill here.
So it all comes down to the three R system.
Hopefully, we can all work together to save water. Remember you don’t have to be perfect, by doing only one of the things we recommend you are making a change.
I'll tell you what, pick one of the things on any of the sections (household, diet, transportation, or clothing) and just try to apply it to your lifestyle. My priority will be buying local. What will be yours?